In 2009, when venture investor Marc Andreessen showed up to a small dinner in the San Francisco Bay Area set up by journalist Josh Quittner, Time Inc. executive Vivek Shah began grilling him on the future of media. How could Time Inc., which makes most of its revenue from print magazines, become a digital company?, Shah asked.
As the executive responsible for the digital business of Time Inc. (Fortune’s parent company), the question was urgently important to Shah. Andreessen is not known to pussyfoot around when it comes to topics like digital disruption. Without realizing it, his answer may have saved Shah’s future company from extinction.